The women’s badminton team capitalized on an intense pre-season training program by comprehensively accounting for two-time defending South Coast conference champions East LA College Huskies, 21-0, in the season opening conference matchup at Monterey Park on Wednesday.
Led by the freshman-duo of Rebecca Tzou and Eugenia Mendez, the Lancers took advantage of a weakened Huskies team due to the graduation of several of their top players.
The Lancers began their uncompromising pre-season training regime on Jan. 5, which involved the team practicing on holidays and utilizing each session by staying disciplined by being pushed beyond their comfort zone by first season head coach Jennifer Ho. That gave the girls the necessary confidence and mental preparation to play to their potential against their conference rivals, who have won their past 18 regular-season matches.
“I think we were pretty ready for that game, we practiced a lot and my coaches say that hard work pays off and we were confident about ourselves,” said Mendez, a freshman and the team’s No. 2 seed. “Our team is pretty good and I think that helped a lot.”
Ho showed a lot of faith in Mendez by trusting her to play the Huskies’ No. 1 seeded player and she didn’t let the Lancers coach down by securing the crucial opening match with a convincing performance. Ho was a little taken aback by Mendez’s level of play, but was happy that she gave some helpful support to number one player Tzou and sophomore Sandra Maw, who have been the standout players in recent times.
“Eugenia Mendez surprised me and I seeded her second, she is really outstanding and she kind of peaked from behind and she did really good yesterday,” said Ho.
Ho is extremely proud of her team for playing at a high standard against ELAC due to a meticulous build-up, which gave them laser focus for the tough season opener. She also gave special mention to sophomore Carmina Ortiz for putting in an eye-catching display.
“The girls were determined to beat East LA this year and we did it and I’m so proud of them,” Ho said. “Our return player Carmina she did great yesterday. I really emphasized on preparing for the first match and they all really focused and put all their energies into, that’s a huge part.”
According to Ortiz, the two biggest differences between PCC’s team and last year’s team is experience and Ho’s ability to motivate the squad.
“Last year’s team we kind of started off with beginners that just started playing badminton and this year we have a lot of players who have been training since they were little,” Ortiz said. “She motivated us to really work hard during practice, to stay focused and to train hard.”
Ho feels that her team is a very over-confident at the moment and is aware of the consequences of letting complacency take over, which is why she reminds the girls of her coaching philosophy on a constant basis.
“Every game we go to we play like a champion team and every point is a championship point, we don’t slack off in any way because we always have to play our best,” Ho said.